Here’s what you can learn from him.
𝗚𝗿𝗼𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗡𝗲𝘄𝘀𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿
1. If you ever want to sell something online, the most important thing is the number of e-mail subscribers you have. Everyone he trusted told him that the first thing you should do is start acquiring e-mail subscribers.
2. Many people try to send e-mails too early, but capture e-mails too late. When you’re first starting out (i.e. until you have 300-500 subscribers) your time is probably better spent getting new subscribers than spending 2-3 hours every week to write a weekly e-mail.
3. David has had way more luck growing his list with mini-courses (ex: 7-day writing course; 5-day Twitter course) delivered via e-mail than with lead magnets. The e-mail courses were more helpful and valuable to his audience than a lead magnet.
4. David knows that building an e-mail list will be a smart, long term strategy, but he also knows that the best way to grow that list will often change. Currently, his favorite way of growing his list is creating Twitter threads. He’s #1 on Readwise’s Twitter leaderboard.
5. When it comes to writing Twitter threads, David recommends being more like James Bond and jumping right into the action. Let the reader know what they can expect to get/learn. Don’t treat Twitter threads like a Tarantino movie where it takes a while to get into the action.
6. Echoing something @naval has shared before: each tweet should have its own individual moment of insight; it’s own complete thought; it’s own interesting idea. Twitter threads should force you to compress what you’re saying and focus on the essence of interesting-ness.
7. A mistake many people make is that they say things like, “Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send an e-mail to straight to your inbox every week.” It’s too generic. People want to know what they’re going to learn and how they’re going to improve by virtue of signing up.
8. When you’re first starting out, most people take every unsubscribe personally, but as you grow you realize churn is part of the process and it stops bothering you. Optimize for the number of people who love your stuff and want to hear from you more often.
9. When it comes to e-mail newsletters, B+ content and A+ consistency is the winning formula. Most of the value comes from consistency, not content. Just focus on never missing an e-mail broadcast.
10. David now spends less than 2 hours a week on his three weekly newsletters. How? He leverages the “burnt ends” strategy, which means he shares things he’s already learned and links he’s already read and found interesting. He doesn’t have to re-do the work—just a process for sharing it.
11. At the end of every year, he compiles all the most interesting things that resonated most throughout the year into a giant blog post that gets more than 100,000 views every year, which can lead to 4,000-5,000 new subscribers. Here’s his 2020 version.
12. The paradox of book publishing is that publishers want you to have an audience of millions of people visiting your website, an idea that’s proven to resonate, and a big e-mail list. But when you have all three of those, you don’t really need a publisher.
13. David’s recommends, when starting out, just going for quantity; try to publish 1x/week. His friend Nick Maggiulli started on New Year’s Day 2018 and hasn’t missed a Tuesday. His writing helped him become the COO of one of America’s top investment advisor firms.
14. Once you have more reach and distribution, you can shift into quality and focus on publishing exceptional essays. (Think Paul Graham or Tim Urban’s “Wait, but Why“) When you publish those pieces, you don’t just hit “publish” and tweet it out, you treat each one like a product launch.
15. What compels David to write his huge essays like the one on Peter Thiel?
- A burning desire
- A question that he must answer that others haven’t
- A question everyone is asking and thinks they have answered but is likely wrong
16. These essays are often multi-year projects He’s typically done 70-80% of the research in advance and then begins to compile that into a central repository (likely via his second brain). At some point, he has so many notes, he starts assembling them like Lego blocks.
17. David indicates that each of these posts takes 100-200 hours, but that they’re the most popular things he’s ever published. Here’s an example I tweeted about previously:
You: "I worked on this blog post for 2 hours. How come nobody is reading it?"
Graph below shows the amount of time @david_perell spent on his last article.
67 HOURS! spread out over 5 months.
He'd been thinking about it for FOUR years.
Top performers play a different game. pic.twitter.com/QJfDjI9EZE
— Ryan Stephens 🥃 (@ryanstephens) February 14, 2020
18. David talks about 3 really lucrative ways for writers to monetize:
- Build a company
- High-end consulting (multiple $50K+ gigs)
- Productized consulting where you turn your knowledge into a product and lower the price, but increase the scale
19. Interestingly, David thinks we’re actually over-indexed on paid newsletters right now. For a certain kind of person who loves to write, they can be a great job. But for most people, he believes that the opportunity costs of starting a product-based business has more upside.
20. If you’re thinking about growing your own newsletter, or monetizing your writing, I highly recommend that you check out the entire interview, which you can find here: